The New York Times called it "the best book you'll read all year," and I have to agree. Saunders' stories are completely unlike anything I've read before. At once profoundly disturbing, thought provoking, and enlightening, Saunders masterfully captures the odd, ragged edges of our life stories. This incendiary collection of mind-bending stories will tear you apart, then patch you back up with a kiss on the forehead.
Dana is the secret daughter of James, who is married and has another family across town. Set in Atlanta in the 1980s, and struggling with her shame and anger when she realizes that she is the illegitimate daughter, Dana becomes obsessed with her half-sister Chaurisse, who has no idea that Dana and her mother exist. And then one day, Dana and Chaurisse’s paths inexorably cross, and the secrets kept, begin to unravel. This is a disquieting coming-of-age novel that examines the obligations and bonds that make up love and family.
Andrew Porter masterfully presents each of his characters' experiences with stunning believability: Elton losing his longtime job as a respected architect, Richard developing as a poet but struggling with his relationships with other men, and Chloe discovering the consequences of her radical boyfriend's actions. When Chloe drops out of college and returns home, she sets into motion a chain of events that sparks a reaction from everyone around her. I was struck by the air of secrecy and helplessness that pervades the story, mirroring the hushed secrets and misunderstandings that fuel the plot. And even when I knew how Chloe's story would inevitably end, I had to keep reading just to see how Porter would tie everything together. This is a beautifully written, suspenseful tragedy.
I loved this memoir of growing up (mostly) in Texas in quite the dysfunctional family. Mary describes her childhood with the humor and compulsion of poetic therapy but the grit and reality of sand in the mouth. Her story is compelling, especially when describing her relationship with her mother and their reversal of roles. Best for anyone delving into the biography genre!